Once upon a time, I recapped an insane Christian book that claimed the devil created football as a tool to destroy humanity. The article’s popularity made me turn my recaps into a weekly series named “So You Don’t Have To“, where I find batshit crazy pieces of media (books, movies, etc) and recap them for your pleasure.
Today, I’ll be recapping the 2020 romantic comedy Nollywood movie, “Namaste Wahala.”
When “Namaste Wahala” was announced in February 2020, Nigerian Twitter collectively lost its shit. Everyone expected it to be an explosion of both cultures, culminating in a film that would be described as “The Wedding Party meets Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.” But most of the reviews I saw after the movie was released a year later summed it up as being “meh.” (And those were the good ones.)
Here’s the reaction I had after finally watching it this past week:
Let’s get into the movie and I’ll explain why.
The movie starts with a montage of the two protagonists, Didi (Ini Dima-Okojie) and Rajesh (Ruslaan Mumtaz), starting their day in their individual homes. They wake up, get into workout clothes, and go for a run. What bugs me about this scene is that Didi wakes up and goes running in a wig, which made me wonder if an alien wrote this movie’s script. Because what human woman sleeps in or goes running in a wig?
Also, she puts her hair in a ponytail before leaving her house and it’s still in a ponytail in this shot. However, in the next shot, which is of her and Rajesh running into each other (even though there’s no one else around them), her hair is suddenly let down.
Even though it’s clear from the screenshot above that Rajesh sees her early enough to stop, their cliché rom-com meet-cute has to happen somehow so they still bump into each other. They give each other googly eyes for a few seconds before going their separate ways. Rajesh exhibits serial killer behaviour by saying this:
Didi goes home to have the most insane family breakfast I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they’re only 4 at the table but look at how much food there is.
And this is just a regular meal!
At breakfast, we’re introduced to Didi’s mom (Joke Silva) and dad (Richard Mofe-Damijo). It’s made clear that Didi’s dad is a piece of shit human when he shades Didi for leaving the family’s law firm to go work at an NGO and refers to her job as a hobby. Later on, Didi takes her friend, Angie, to a fundraising event organised by the NGO Didi works for. Even though the event is to raise money for women who have been victims of abuse, Angie is just there to look for man.
Rajesh is also at this event because Leila, the CEO of the NGO, is his cousin. I pause the movie here to laugh because the director/writer/producer of the movie (Hamisha Daryani Ahuja) cast herself as Leila.
Even funnier, her acting isn’t great.
Anyway, Rajesh and Didi run into each other again and this happens:
Then they start dating and the first 3 months of their relationship is condensed into a 4-minute song and (poorly choreographed) dance number.
Something funny that happens during this montage is that whenever they’re on a date somewhere, there are never people in the background. At some point, it felt like I was watching a rom-com set against the backdrop of the rapture. Check it:
The director said, “Fuck realism and production value.”
Rajesh asks to meet Didi’s parents, and even though she’s worried about how her dad will react, she organises a meeting. Earlier in the movie, Didi’s father says he wants her to get married so he can pass on his law firm to her husband. The problematic nature of this desire aside, you’d think he’d be happy that she’s found someone but he’s not, and dramatically spits out his drink in disapproval.
Didi goes to Rajesh’s house to apologise for the way her dad reacted but Rajesh is upset that Didi didn’t inform her parents of his nationality. They have a stupid fight about it that gets interrupted by a phone call from Rajesh’s overbearing mother.
The introduction between Rajesh’s mum and Didi goes terribly. Didi, on her best behaviour is like:
But Rajesh’s mom is like:
Honestly, the whole thing was giving me incest vibes.
Then came the storyline that effectively stops this movie from being a comedy and turns it into a sad drama. Didi decides to represent a hotel worker who was physically assaulted by some rich guy. Didi’s dad finds out about the case and blows a gasket because the defendant in the case is the son of his firm’s biggest client (meaning that he’ll be the one going against her). Didi explains that she’s just trying to help the victim get justice but her father is more concerned about pissing off his client.
Depressed from everything in their lives suddenly going to shit, Rajesh and Didi sit together in his house while dressed in insane Ankara prints.
Their friends, Angie and Emma, convince them to go on a bar crawl. The movie’s makers used this as an opportunity to work in the most violent product placement I’ve seen since Krispy Kreme in 2017’s Power Rangers. Check it:
Because it’s very common for young adults looking to drink their problems away to order COCA-COLA and nothing else.
While they’re teaching Rajesh outdated Nigerian dance moves in a pointlessly drawn out montage…
…M.I just happens to show up. Because why the fuck not?
Didi shows up to the first hearing of the assault case and says she’s hungover, even though all they had the previous night were coca-colas and mocktails. She’s somehow blinded when the physical assaulter’s legal team provides evidence to counter her claim. The “evidence” is literally just screenshots taken from surveillance footage arranged to fit their narrative. Somehow, she falls for it.
The idea of surveillance footage doesn’t even occur to Didi until her she’s had her ass kicked in court. She goes to the hotel and finds out that someone from her father’s firm took the footage and destroyed it. Didi goes back to yell at her father for being such a despicable bastard and he pretty much confirms to her that he did it. Upset, Didi decides to move out of her parents’ house. Her mother is like:
Didi goes to stay with Rajesh. They spend a few days cuddling and watching Zee World (I shit you not) until his mum returns and reads her for filth. Didi wants to leave but Rajesh begs her to stay. What follows is a series of stupid events where Didi and Rajesh’s mum compete for his attention. It’s poorly done and doesn’t pack the comedic punch it could’ve. Didi’s mum comes to take her home but gets into an insult match with Rajesh’s mum.
Didi and Rajesh fight each other because of their mums’ fight and kinda break up (?) I don’t know. We’re shown a montage of Rajesh at the beach by himself looking sad and Didi ugly crying herself to sleep in a bob wig.
After a few weeks of grieving her 3-month-old relationship, Didi goes back to work. She’s able to get the surveillance footage she needs from the hotel’s owner who is an Indian man that’s friends with Rajesh and Leila. Yes, all the Indian characters in this movie somehow know each other.
Didi takes the footage to court and wins the case. Only when this happens does her dad have a change of heart. He apologises and says she’s earned his respect. She forgives him, which is stupid because if she had lost, he never would’ve never apologised. But whatever I guess.
Leila goes to speak to Rajesh’s mother on Didi’s behalf and this is how the conversation goes:
Now convinced that Didi is good enough for her son, she and Rajesh go have dinner with Didi and her family. During this, Rajesh’s mother insults the hell out of Didi’s father.
They all forgive each other and hug it out. The movie ends with a cheap-looking Nigerian/Indian fusion wedding with inconsistent costumes and not enough extras.